Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas main office in Manila. -- CRAG

THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) has canceled two firms’ registration to operate as virtual asset service providers (VASP). 

The Monetary Board has revoked the Certificates of Registration of B-Express, Inc. and Coinville Phils., Inc., according to circular letters dated Dec. 1 and signed by BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier.

Both firms were among the 19 entities in the Philippines that held VASP licenses as of end-June 2022.

The BSP imposed a three-year ban on VASP licensing beginning Sept. 1, 2022.

B-Express, a crypto company based in South Korea, received a virtual currency license from the BSP in March 2019, allowing the firm to engage in crypto to fiat transactions in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Coinville Phils. was allowed to operate as a remittance and transfer company with virtual currency exchange services in April 2019.

Based on BSP Circular No. 1108, a VASP “refers to any entity that offers services or engages in activities that provide facility for the transfer or exchange of virtual assets” such as cryptocurrency.

VASP activities covered by the central bank include the exchange of one or more forms of virtual assets, transfer of virtual assets, and safekeeping and/or administration of virtual assets or instruments enabling control of virtual assets.

The BSP strengthened security measures for cryptocurrency in 2021, including those for VASPs, which are subject to the central bank’s licensing requirements and anti-money laundering obligations.

The central bank has said digital currencies enable faster and cheaper remittances, but has warned the public about their risks, including their rapidly-changing value, potential use in crimes, and cybersecurity issues. — K.B. Ta-asan